White Hat SEO: Optimize Your Site for Organic Search the Right Way

If you’re serious about making money with your business through Google, then you need to know everything about white hat SEO. Every business that does white hat SEO has enjoyed sustained success throughout the years. They attract hundreds and thousands of visitors every day and convert their traffic into sales without problems. White hat SEO […]

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If you’re serious about making money with your business through Google, then you need to know everything about white hat SEO.

Every business that does white hat SEO has enjoyed sustained success throughout the years. They attract hundreds and thousands of visitors every day and convert their traffic into sales without problems. White hat SEO allows them to scale their performance because they can track information about their site and break them down into different variables.

However, white hat SEO is difficult. It takes time building your site from the ground up and creating great content your target audience loves. However, the fruits of your labor will come later on once you’ve committed yourself to the path of white hat SEO.

In this post, you will:

  • understand what white hat SEO is all about
  • know what you need to have to success with your white hat SEO campaign
  • distinguish white hat SEO from black hat SEO
  • learn the tactics and technique to help you build a sustainable white hat SEO campaign
  • figure out the best white hat SEO tools to use for each technique

How to dominate organic search for a more profitable business

What is “white hat SEO?”

White hat SEO is the process of optimizing your website by following the guidelines set forth by search engines like Google and Bing. You need to know the Google Webmaster Guidelines and Bing Webmaster Guidelines before you can do white hat SEO on your site. For brevity’s sake, just focus on Google since it has been the biggest search engine in the world. It has a worldwide market share of 90.46% for July 2018. Unless there’s a seismic shift in the market and that miraculously puts Google in the back burner, you need to appease Google with your website to enjoy high search ranking.

There is always going to be a debate on what truly is white hat, black hat and 50 shades of in-between. I personally just consider it an ethical position. For example, are you paying for dofollow links, are you cloaking your content, are you mass building doorway pages to catch cheap traffic, are you building or buying websites just to benefit the target property? I could go on, ask me in the comments if you are not sure if something is black hat, white or gray hat.

awr cloud ctr

Why people want to rank on top of organic search, you ask? According to the CTR study of Advanced Web Ranking, the first result of organic search gets 30.16% of all clicks on desktop (22.83% on mobile). The next two positions yield 15.54% and 9.86% of all desktop clicks (13.68% and 9.5% on mobile respectively). By ranking on top of organic search results for your keywords (or even the second and third positions to an extent), you can generate enough clicks to attract hundreds of visitors every day, if not thousands. It also depends on the search volume of the keyword you’re trying to optimize for. But that’s a topic for a later discussion.

The one thing you need before starting your white hat SEO

There are lots of people spreading misinformation on how to rank on top of Google organic search. These gurus claim they know the exact process on making your site appear on the first result of Google. Before falling into their trap, nobody claims knowledge of how Google algorithm works. Its search algorithm determines which pages rank for their respective search phrase using different ranking signals. Any information on how the algorithm works is not available for the public. Therefore, if you read SEO “experts” telling you they can rank your website on top of Google search, they’re most likely talking out of their ass.

Ironically enough, it’s not about the algorithm with white hat SEO. The algorithm is there to help aid in determining the site pages that will rank in order. But if you want to make the most out of your website, you need to think about your audience. By creating a website your target audience loves, you build meaningful relationships with them through the content you publish. Google appreciates and rewards websites that think of their audience and visitors first.

semrush ranking factors

According to SEMrush in this first-ever Ranking Factors research, direct website visits carries the most weight as a ranking signal. If you can get more people to visit your site organically, then it will be much easier to optimize your site and sustain its high rankings for a long time! However, as mentioned, reaching the top of Google search is like building a business – it doesn’t happen overnight. You need to take one step at a time to reach your goals.

Is there a faster way to rank on top of organic search?

Yes, there is. However, the answer to this question is not the solution you’re looking for.

On the flip side of the coin is black hat SEO. It is the exact opposite of white hat SEO because it disregards the Google Webmaster Guidelines and gamifies the algorithms using questionable and unnatural tactics. A website that uses black hat SEO tactics will see a drastic increase in its rankings over a short period. However, Google eventually tracks the culprit site and penalizes it by banning all its page from appearing on Google search.

reconsideration request denied due to black hat seo tactics

Once Google catches you doing black hat SEO on your site, you’re toast. You can send a reconsideration request but there’s no chance Google will lift the ban on your site. Image Source: Brafton

Despite the perils of black hat SEO, people still use this method of churning and burning websites for the sake of making a quick buck. Black hat SEO practitioners know Google will penalize their site if caught using illegal tactics. So they use all the best tactics under the black hat SEO banner to make their sites rank on top and profit off them quick. Once Google penalizes the site, they move on to the next project and repeat the process.

This method requires you to move your content from one domain to another and risk your affiliate and ad accounts from getting banned. If you’re focused on building a penalty-free and legitimate business, then you should skip black hate SEO and go with the tried-and-tested ways of white hat SEO.

The white hat SEO blueprint to a useful and optimized site

As mentioned, nobody knows how the Google algorithm works. One can only surmise the best practices using the information available to us. The tactics and techniques below are tried-and-tested ways to help your site grow its traffic and increase its organic search ranking slowly but surely. More importantly, it makes your website useful for humans. Just as important as meeting the guidelines set forth by Google, you need to make your target audience happy with your site. Making them visit your site again and again will signal Google the value of your site. As a result, you could see an increase in your search rankings if done correctly.

This post divides the strategies into different sections. We will start with setting the foundations of an optimize and useful site before you implement the best SEO practices on your site.

Priming your website for SEO

Set up tracking tools for your site

If you haven’t done it yet, you need to install Google Analytics and Google Search Console to your site so you can monitor its performance effectively. All these tools, especially Google Analytics, will provide valuable data to help you determine how your site is faring so far.

Below are factors you need to track on Google Analytics:

  • Traffic – Total number of unique visitors
  • Average duration – How long the visitor stayed in your site/page
  • Bounce rate – The percentage of people who bounced away from your site after visiting the first page on search results
  • Referral/traffic sources – The websites that referred the traffic to your site
  • Site content – The pages that performed the best based on the variables above

Later on, you’d want to open yourself to more complex metrics. For now, these will do to help you evaluate your site’s performance.

Google Search Console provides better information about the queries users typed to find your site and the number of clicks your pages got from those queries. You can compare the clicks with impressions, CTR, and positions to help you understand why your site performed the way it did.

Google Analytics

Install Google Analytics but signing up your Google account and creating a tracking code for your site. Copy and paste the code before your site’s </head> tag. Some themes offer a way to do this for you. If not, you can download a plugin that lets you embed the code.

Once you have verified the code, install Google Search Console next by creating your property on your account and validate using Google Analytics to confirm the site.

You may also need to subscribe to an SEO tool like Ahrefs to monitor your SEO progress, i.e. how many keywords you’re ranking for, backlinks you’ve built, etc. There are lots of SEO tools to choose from, but you can start with these free tools. There will come to a point you’ll obsess which premium SEO tool to use. My advice is don’t get too caught up with each tool. Settle for a tool you feel most comfortable using and let the data from the tool guide you to make informed decisions to improve your site’s white hat SEO campaign. For now, the three aforementioned tools are considered the best in the industry so try your hand using them and see where it leads you to.

Refine sales funnel

Develop the funnel on how you intend to make money with your site. Reverse-engineer your business by starting with your end goal. What do you want to achieve with your site? If you want to make money, what products or services will you be selling to achieve this goal (courses, memberships, others)? Does selling existing products and earning a commission from each transaction appeal to you? Create as many assets as you can to generate profit from different income streams. However, the approach you’ll be taking depends on the site you have.

Once you have a clear goal in mind, you can work your way up to finding traffic sources. How will you attract visitors to your site? Content useful online content such as blog posts is a great way to start. Your site will enjoy these pages once they rank for their target keyword on Google. However, keep in mind that there are other sources of traffic outside creating online content. You can step away from your computer and connect with your audience the old-fashioned way. Attending meetups and workshops to network with like-minded people will go a long way.

You can plot out your conversion funnel using Google Analytics to track their respective performances. Create a goal in your Analytics dashboard by identifying the pages involved in your funnel. Doing so helps you identify the correlation among the pages and see what’s affecting the click-through and conversion rate.

Find different ways to monetize your assets

Courses, membership fees, and products are just the tip of the iceberg as far as making money with your site is concerned. You can serve contextual ads and offer sponsored posts on your site. If you plan on building online communities like Facebook and LinkedIn Groups, you need to determine how you can make money off your fans and followers. You can invite site visitors to the groups by featuring a link to your site or send them an email.

These ideas will only be effective if you have built steady traffic and authority on your site. Brands won’t contact your site if your site is fairly new and is drawing flies. You need to prove to your audience that your site have what it takes to become the go-to site for your niche or topic. You will learn the tactics to help your site rise to the top later. For now, you can just plot out your ideas on how to branch out your income streams once you develop authority with your site.

Make your site load faster and responsive

Google recently added site speed as an SEO factor for a good reason. Nobody wants to visit a site that takes forever to load and has a non-responsive design. By making your site mobile-friendly and lightweight, you get into the good side of Google which could help position your site pages to better rankings.
To get you started, read this post I wrote about how to make your WordPress site faster. It’s loaded with advice on ways to speed up your site and make it friendly to browsers and bandwidths as much as possible. If you’re running your site on WordPress, then this post I wrote will have everything you need.

If you’re not using WordPress for your site, you can use tools like Pingdom and  GTMetrix, to help you set the baseline of your site’s speed. Both sites determine the variables that affect how your site loads on the user’s end. For problematic sites, you may need help from a professional designer or programmer to help you handle the quirks of your site.

Switch to SSL

Migrating from HTTP to HTTPS What You Need to Know

Making your site secure using an SSL certificate is another factor that now influences search rankings. With the rampant security issues that are making their rounds in the news, it only makes sense for websites to beef up their security with the help of an SSL certificate. When installed correctly, it helps prevent malware and hackers from stealing information entered by visitors on your site’s forms and log-in pages.

If you haven’t migrated our site from HTTP to HTTPS, it’s high time you do it now. Read this post I wrote for a more in-depth explanation why you need to migrate now and how you can do it. Since a secure site is now a ranking factor, it’s best to make the shift now than later.

In the post, I mentioned that you can get a free Let’s Encrypt certificate from the site. However, the certification depends on whether the hosting provider you’re using can install the certification for you. Another source for SSL certification is COMODO, the basic of which you can purchase for less than $10/year. It’s not free compared to Let’s Encrypt SSL, but this will suffice.

Boost your site with white hat SEO

Now you’ve established the foundation of your online business, the next step is developing a white hat SEO strategy. If done successfully, your business can enjoy sustained traffic and sales for a foreseeable period.

I will cover the elements you need to run an efficient SEO-friendly website. It requires you to use tools and software to get the job done. I will also assist you on how to work those tools to your favor especially if you have no experience using them.

Keyword research

Your keywords serve as the building block your white hat SEO strategy rests on. Since you want your site to be more visible in Google, you need to find keywords that people search. At the same time, you want to choose keywords with the least path to resistance.

To begin, there are two types of keyword research: traditional and competitive keyword research.

The former requires you to search and choose keywords based on its search volume and keyword difficulty (using premium tools). You search for a head term or seed keyword and the tool will provide keyword suggestions you can choose for your white hat SEO strategy.

You can competitor-based research by analyzing the keywords your competitors are ranking for. From there, identify keywords hat you feel you can rank for by creating better content than your competition. You can also see keywords they’re not ranking for so you can capitalize on those before it’s too late.

Traditional keywords work on conjecture. You are basing your research on variables provided by the tool you’re using. The issue here is you could be targeting keywords that your competition isn’t. With competitive research, you get proven keywords sites similar to yours are ranking for. Both methods should help you find the right keywords to optimize for your online business.

Search volume vs. keyword difficulty

As mentioned, there are two factors in keyword research you need to keep in mind. Search volume refers to the number of searches a keyword has in a month. Keyword difficulty deals with how easy or hard ranking for the keyword will be.

The logic follows that you should target keywords with lots of monthly searches. While this is true, it also follows that keywords with a high search volume equates to tougher competition. Since other site owners want a piece of the traffic pie from the keywords, they will publish the best content possible and implement other white hat SEO tactics to ensure they rank on top. And we’re not just talking here about a handful of competitors. We’re potentially looking at hundreds and thousands of website who want to rank for keywords with high search volume!

Therefore, the better route to take is the one less traveled. Targeting keywords with low search volume sounds foolish. However, it also means there are fewer competitors ranking for that keyword. It makes sense to focus on these low-hanging fruit keywords instead of jumping the gun and aiming for highly competitive keywords. Since it will be much easier to rank for these keywords, you can drive more traffic to your site. The more site traffic you generate, the more authoritative your website becomes!

Head terms vs. long tail keywords


The number of words for each search query has to do with a keyword’s search volume and difficulty. The fewer the words, the more times it gets searched, the more difficult ranking for the keyword will be. The more words in a phrase, the lower the search volume, the easier it to rank for the keyword.

Long tail keywords refer to the latter. They each have at least five words in a search phrase. You need to target for long tail keywords first as mentioned above. More importantly, long tail keywords are much more specific compared to head terms or keywords made up of two to three words. By ranking for a long tail keyword, you not only increase your site traffic but also get to boost your conversion rate. Assuming you provided great content and placed a CTA related to the keyword, users who visit your site will most likely commit to your call to action.

Keyword intent

To understand the psychology behind every keyword, you need to know what the intent behind every keyword is. There are four types of keyword intent:

  • Navigational – want to know the website of a business. These are normally branded keywords, i.e. “nike website,” “godaddy site,” “mcdonalds”
  • Informational – want to know more information about a subject. They start with any of the four W’s (what, why, when, where) and one H (how). Examples of informational keywords are, “how to stuff a turkey,” “what gift should I give my wife on our anniversary,” “why brew your own beer,” etc.
  • Commercial – a cross between information and transactional keywords. Users want to know more about a product or service before making an informed decision. Examples of such are “ibanez JEM70V review,” “ahrefs vs. semrush,” “tennis racquets,” etc.
  • Transactional – want to search a page where they will buy something. Examples include, “buy golf clubs,” “subscribe to time magazine,” “missouri homes for sale,” etc.

Most website use a mix of the last three keyword intents for your content strategy. In fact, they start researching for informational keywords first before commercial and transactional ones. While the purpose of your site is to make money, you need to establish authority in your niche first. You can’t publish content with the purpose of selling right out the gate. You need to create compelling content that informs you audience first about your niche or industry. Once you have the right content pieces in place, complement them by creating content using transactional and commercial keyword.]

For more information, please read the post I wrote regarding this topic.

Never forget that you want to provide value to your audience. Well-written and informative posts about topics your audience wants to learn more about is important. This content type allows you to put your foot on their door. It establishes trust with your readers and introduce to them who you are and what your business means to them. Once the connection is made, it will be much easier to convert them into customers or subscribers once you start creating transactional-focused content.

Keyword cannibalization

When researching for keywords, you need to optimize each of your keyword with unique keywords. Never target for the same keyword on different posts or pages. If that happens, both content will fight for the same keyword on search results. It is possible that Google ends up not ranking either page for the keyword! Therefore, avoid keyword cannibalization at all costs. You can track the keywords used for each content on a spreadsheet so you don’t lose track of what each is optimized for. To make your job much easier, use a tool that will automatically track the rankings and determine which pages is ranking for which keyword (more about tools later).

Keyword stuffing

Years ago, keyword stuffing was the way of optimizing your content to rank on Google. In principle, you need to mention the keyword a certain number of times in the post. It doesn’t matter if the keyword disrupts the flow of the content. Featuring the keyword on your content as many times as possible is key to the success of your SEO campaign.

As time went by and Google vastly improved its algorithm, keyword stuffing has gone the way of the dinosaur. It’s an obsolete and crappy tactic that no longer works for a good reason. What’s important now is the creation of valuable content that your audience will find useful. Mentioning keywords on certain parts of your content is still a ranking factor, but it takes a backseat from the creation of genuinely good content.

Tools to use for keyword research

ahrefs keyword research for white hat seo

I have discussed keyword research in one of my posts. I went in depth with some tools you can use to conduct keyword research on your site and competitors. You can read the post for more information on each tool, but I’ll provide a summary of the tools you should use for keyword research:

  • Google Keyword Planner – This tool gives you an estimated range of a keyword’s search volume. It’s not as useful as before, but it’s free so there’s that.
  • Ubersuggest – The Neil Patel version of this tool lets you unearth Google suggestions for each keyword and their estimated search volume. This is a much better version than the Google Keyword Planner.
  • Woorank Chrome Extension – Use the tool on your competitors to generate their respective aggregate scores based on different SEO variables for reference.
  • Ahrefs – You can search for keyword ideas and their keyword difficulty scores. You can also conduct competitive-based keyword research by entering your competitor sites and looking at keywords they’re currently ranking for. This is one of the best tools for SEO and you should try to invest in this tool as much as possible.
  • LongTailPro – Great way to unearth hundreds and thousands of keywords for your websites. It’s best used to keyword long tail keywords with the lowest keyword competitiveness.
  • SEMrush – Similar to Ahrefs, this tool can do traditional and competitor-based keyword for you. It also has nifty features such as the SEO Content Template and others to help you building SEO-friendly content.

Wrapping up the keyword research portion

Below is the TL;DR version of this section before we move on to another topic:

  • the higher the search volume of a keyword, the greater is competition, and vice versa
  • focus on finding long tail keywords with low competition specific to your niche
  • it’s more important to find specific keyword with low search volume than generic keywords with high search volume
  • create informational content to establish a rapport with your target audience before creating commercial and transactional keywords
  • Avoid stuffing your keywords in your content and using the same keywords on over one post
  • Use keyword tools to help you identify search volume, keyword difficulty, and other variables automatically

Audit your site

Whether you have a newly minted site or an existing one, auditing your site helps you identify areas on your site that need improvement. As part of white hat SEO’s foundations, you need to make sure all gears are greased up and ready to go before making your site rank on top of search results.

Before getting there, you must conduct a full website audit. Analyze each of your published pages and how optimized they are for their respective keyword (if they already have). You can even change the keyword using one that the page is already ranking for (more about this below on updating old posts). More importantly, you need to assess your site’s structure and build to ensure all the pieces are in it right place.

Below are variables you need to analyze when conducting an SEO audit:

  • Meta data – Do your pages have accomplished meta titles and descriptions? Is the keyword for each page mentioned in the meta data? Are your titles over 65 characters and your descriptions over 156 characters? If so, you need to decrease the character count so they will show properly on Google organic search. If your meta title has less than 35 characters, then it might need to be more descriptive which you can do by adding more words.
  • Images – Are your images compressed? Do any of your images exceed 100kb? The goal is to decrease the file size of each without compromising its quality. Also, do they all have alt text that mention the keyword where they are embedded in? If not, then you should manually edit the alt texts of all your images. However, there may be imagesyou won’t compress under 100kb because of their dimensions, i.e. infographics.
  • Broken links – Does your site link out to 404 pages? Do any of those pages come within your site? If the broken links are to other sites, replace them with a page containing similar information. If the links to 404 pages are from your site, then you need to fix the page by redirecting them to the correct link.
  • Duplicates – Do you have pages that are the same from top to bottom? If yes, you need to determine which page version to keep and the ones you need to get rid of.

The goal of an audit is to identify the factors that are holding your site back from an SEO standpoint. Also, by improving your site based on the information from your SEO audit, you can make it much more usable for your audience.

I have detailed how you can conduct a technical SEO audit and the free tools you can do to get the job done. Personally, Screaming Frog SEO Spider is the tool to use for your audit needs. You can download the software and use it for free if your site has 500 pages or fewer.

Competitive research

The Only Guide You'll Need About Competitor Research for SEO

I broached upon this subject under the keyword research section of this post. However, competitive research is not just limited to finding keywords to optimize for your site.

With competitive research, you will gain access to a site’s backlink profile. As mentioned, links are a vital ranking factor in SEO, If you want to rank your site pages for their target keywords, then you need to build as many backlinks as possible. One way to achieve is to the creation of linkbait content. This type of content is designed to attract links passively. You let people who visit the page do the heavy lifting for you.

However, assuming you have competitors already ahead of the curve, it’s best to spy on them by looking at the keywords they’re ranking for and the links they’ve generated. Once you have their backlinks, you can comb through the list and determine sites where you can also acquire a link from. To do this, you must determine the link they got from the site, i.e. guest post byline, blog commenting, link from the content, etc.

For competitive research to work, you need a tool like Ahrefs and SEMrush. Plugging the site on the search bar will yield you keyword and backlink data that you can replicate on your own site. Regarding backlink data, you will see the number of domains ranking for their sites, the anchor text distribution, the pages with the most keywords, and more.

To help you understand how to conduct competitive research the right way, click here.

Create content strategically

Despite having the target keyword for your content and research data about your competitors, you still need to dig deeper for information on how to rank on top of Google search. Let’s face it – it’s not enough to just write captivating content and expect it to rank on search engines. Your competitors are probably doing the same thing, if not better! Therefore, you need to get your leg up against the competition and find other ways on how to approach content creation.

A way to do this is by analyzing the pages ranking on the top page of Google search. However, manually breaking down the elements of each page ranking on the first pace is time-consuming and exhausting. You have to analyze the average number of words, the number of subheadings, and other ranking factors and organize them on a spreadsheet for reference. The idea is the find the most common denominators that each post have so you include them in your post. While the findings will help you come up with ideas on how to write SEO-friendly content, you’ll be gassed out by the time you’ll write the post.

SurferSEO homepage

SurferSEO makes the process much easier. This free and powerful tool does the legwork of analyzing the different technical SEO factors of the pages on Google search with just a click of a button!

After entering the target keyword you want to optimize for, the tool will show the x- and y-axis graph wherein the x shows the ranking position and the y shows the ranking value. The graph analyzes three key components:

  • Structure – checks for the number of words, keyword density, exact match, and other factors on the body, title, meta descriptions, headings, and more.
  • Quality – analyzes site speed and breaks down the file sizes of each element on the page
  • Media – shows the number of images on the page

You can check which elements you want to show on the graph to compare the results.

surferseo graph for white hat seo

By default, the x-axis clusters search results by 10 pages. Each point in the graph represents the average figure of the ranking factors for every 10 pages on search results. You can change the figure if you want to get more granular, i.e. one page per point in the graph.

When choosing which elements to compare, consider the correlation score of each to the keyword. The higher the correlation, the greater its value in relation to the keyword and its search position.

Therefore, you must keep your content as close as possible to the average ranking value of factors with the highest correlation of the first 10 pages ranking for the keyword. Doing so helps increase your chances of ranking your content on organic search.

Update old posts

If you have old posts laying around, update them and give them a little boost. Thanks to the Google Freshness algo, you need to ensure that you site pages contain the latest information about the topic for then to continue ranking on search results. Check your Google Analytics and Search Console to see traffic-generating pages on your site published for more than a year. Edit them by including the latest findings and information about the topic.

In fact, your old post can get a huge boost if you include the current year to tick readers that the post is new. For example, if you have a post optimized for the keyword “content marketing trends,” you can spruce up the title by including today’s year, i.e. Content Marketing Trends that Work in 2018 and Beyond. Consistently doing this twice a year for your site (January and July) will help supply readers and Google with the best and freshest information.

Also, you can use your SEO tool to find out the keywords your page is ranking for. Once you have the information, edit the post with the best keyword to use in mind so you can maximize your search ranking for that keyword. Optimizing your site for low-hanging fruit keywords could move the needle for your site to rank even higher on organic search.

Content Repurposing

Finally, you can recreate your posts into a different format. Repurpose your blog posts into videos, images, podcasts, or any type of content imaginable. Doing so lets you appeal to people who prefer browsing, watching, or listening to their content instead of reading them.

On this section, you can also use SurferSEO to compare your post to the ones ranking on Google. In particular, compare your page to the ones ranking on the first page of search results. Check the elements with the highest correlation and compare it to yours. You need to make your post as close as possible to the ones of the first page to increase your chances of moving up the ranks.

Create skyscraper content

Skyscraper content has been discussed and done to death but with good reason – it works!

Brian Dean coined the term that describes content that is better and more “linkable” than any other page about the topic online. Even if your site is brand new, creating skyscraper content helps position your site as one of the better and most reliable sites about the subject. By implement this content type consistently, Google will eventually have to list your website on top of search results for your keyword.

I have detailed the process of creating skyscraper content, also known as 10x content, in this post. Basically, you need to research for the best posts about the topic and create an unequivocally better content than all the ranking pages combined.

The easiest type of skyscraper content to create is a roundup post. By asking influencers an answer to a question related to your niche, you gather their answers and post them on your site. The more influential the people you can interview, the better!

Evergreen content

Everything You Need to Know about Evergreen Content

Similar to skyscraper content, evergreen content allows you to build valuable and resource pages that stand the test of time as the name suggests.

To create this content type, you need to determine the kind of topics that people always talk about in your industry. Once you have figured them out, you need to create definitive guides or comprehensive how-to articles about them. The idea is to create a be-all-end-all post about the topic so people will come running to your site if they want to know more information about the subject. As a result, evergreen content is very SEO-friendly. Since they cover the most ground about the subject, they are inherently linkable assets. You can expect people to link back to your evergreen content. If lots of your readers do, Google will eventually rank your evergreen pages for their appropriate keyword.

I have gone into detail about this topic in this post. Click on the link to see examples and best practices of evergreen content.

Use multimedia on your content

Nobody wants to read a wall of text. People run the other way if they see a page with blocks of paragraphs clustered together. Since online users have the attention span akin to a goldfish, you need to appeal to their sensibilities by creating more varied content that features different elements aside from just text.

Adding images, videos, soundbites, and other elements on your content to create a more engaging and interactive experience.

In fact, it would be best if you can create infographics to embed on your posts. Infographics can help you build links passively especially if they are well-designed and provide unique and compelling information. If you can’t create one, you can find an infographics from Pinterest that you can use on your site to shed more light about the topic.

While adding different elements help spruce up your content, don’t go overboard with them. Make sure that the message of your content is clear and not buried by the multimedia featured on your post.

Improve internal linking

Drive more traffic and improve flow of link juice by linking to your site pages. As much as possible, don’t link to resources outside of your site unless you don’t have a page that provides information about the topic.

Linking from one page to another manually is troublesome especially if you have thousands of pages. If you are using WordPress as your CMS, you can use plugins that let you enter a link and anchor text. They will then find the anchor text across all your site pages and link them to the page you indicated.

While using any of these plugins save you time and effort, there’s no replacement to manual internal link building. The plugin help create an unnatural internal link building because it only targets specific anchor text and not generic terms. Therefore, create a more varied link building strategy using different anchor texts. If there are too many pages to edit, hire a VA to get the job done for you.

White hat SEO link building

The biggest and most common misconception about link building is its focus on getting links for a sake of getting them. It doesn’t factor in the human element of link building. After all, people own the websites. If you want to get a link from sites, then you want to go through the person first.

At the end of the day, link building is more about building relationships and less about leaving links to your site. Based on the post I wrote about this topic, the best link building tactics won’t work without people from the other side. If you can foster a relationship and building trust with site owners and webmasters from the ground up, then it will be easier to acquire links on their site in the long run.

Below are some of the tactics used to generate links from high-authority sites that move the needle in search rankings.

Broken link building

Link building is a reciprocal activity. In order for site owners to allow links back to your site, you need to do them a favor. By doing something good to them at your own behest, they will be much more willing to help you out with your request.

A way of going site owners a solid is by identifying a site’s broken links. You can read this post as I talked about this topic in detail. What you need to understand with this tactic is you need to find a broken link that’s similar to the page from your site you want the site owner to link to. You can search for a website’s Resources or Links page which features useful external links about a specific topic. You can run a quick broken link check using this Chrome extension and verify if the link is indeed.

Once you found a link you can replace with your own, you need to send them an email introducing yourself as a reader of their site or blog and finding the broken link as you were browsing the page. After the site owner replied positively and replaced the link, you can send another email asking him/her to add your link since it’s also related to the topic at hand. When doing this, make sure that your content provides lots of value and is a linkable asset.

Citation building (for local SEO)

If you want to rank locally, then you need to take a different approach with your link building strategy. Local SEO, for all intents and purposes, is fundamentally different that the usual SEO you’re accustomed to. It’s not about building links to your website. Rather, it’s about creating citations for your local business from review sites and other online channels. Building a positive outlook on your business helps generate more sales for your business.

Again, I have written a post about local SEO tips you can replicate for your local business (because I’m awesome). Without spoiling any of the tips in the post, its takeaway is you want search engines and people to know that your shop exists and that they can visit it at certain times during the day. Also, finding ways to increase social proof on how good your store is can potentially increase your sales in the long run.

Another common tactic that popular local shops implement is to list their websites on local directory sites. I’m not talking about the crappy web directories that were once hot topic in the early 2000s. I’m referring here to high-quality directory listing in your state or city. These highly specific yet extremely helpful directories makes looking for your site much easier and help boost your site from an SEO perspective.

Blogger outreach

Similar to broken link building, blogger outreach allows you to carve relationships with site owners by offering something of value to them. The goal of blogger outreach is to get traffic to your website by getting the site owners to promote it on their social network or link to it on one of their sites. To do this, you need to be genuinely interested in striking a connection with them first. As mentioned, the human element of link building trumps every other factor. If you can successfully engage them until you build a rapport with each, you can drive more traffic to your site and boost your link profile. I often outsource most of this work to a trusted white label seo service but it’s best to learn before so you can judge results.

It starts with how to frame your message. Your headline also matters because it is what makes people click on your email in the first place. The kind of email you will write depends on what works best. For starters, you can lead with telling them why you’re reaching out to them. For example, they tweeted a post about a topic that you’ve written just recently. Follow it up by saying you created a similar post and maybe they’re interested in sharing it to their network. From here, you can choose to share the link on the same email or wait until they reply. Again, it’s all about what works best. Keep testing the emails you will send to people and find out what works best for you.

To help with strategically approaching your blogger outreach and finding out the best tools to help you with this task, read this post I wrote.

Blog comments

Leaving links to your site on the comment sections of blogs sounds like a spammy tactic. However, what makes a tactic spammy is the one using it. If done correctly, blog comments can help lift your site’s SEO performance.

I shared my exact process on how to comment on other blogs that allow me to build links as too. There are three words that you need to remember when leaving blog comments with a link to you site: always provide value. I sound like a broken record, but link building is all about building relationships with site owners and bloggers. With regard to blog commenting, you need to read the post and provide fresh insights about the topic that the post didn’t cover.

The idea is to keep the conversation going by asking questions and making the site owner and other readers think. Ideally, you should include the link to your site (preferably a blog post or resource page) within the comment, However, if it’s not possible at the moment, then the link to name would suffice for now.

Get onboard with Schema Markup

schema markup is important for white hat SEO

Schema Markup is a microdata that helps search engines understand the type of content found in the page. Back then, all pages are treated equally by search engines even if not all pages are the same. Through this microdata, Google can identify the content type (blog post, recipe, event, video, etc.) and provide the necessary information in the rich snippets.

There is no substantial evidence that Schema Markup helps in your white hat SEO campaign. However, a properly created Schema Markup helps increase CTR if seen on search results. The fact that the information is organized per content type helps provide more information for users before they commit on a page.

Generating Schema Markups for all your site pages is one of the SEO trends you need to observe moving forward. You can follow the steps on how to create Schema Markup manually in this post.

Implement open graph data

Similar to Schema Markup, Open Graphs for Facebook and Twitter help increase the click-through rate of a site page when featured on either social media site. Open Graph lets you edit the page’s title, feature image, and description that can be different from the page’s metadata. In this case, you don’t have to include your keywords in here.

The idea is to create compelling titles and descriptions that people can’t help but click on them to read your page when they appear on Facebook and Twitter. This post should give you an idea on how to create the best Open Graph data for each of your site pages.

Mobile optimization

google mobile friendliness

While part of making your site load faster, you need to ensure that mobile users gain access to your site as fast as possible. You need to consider using Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles. What both formats do to your content is strip off the unnecessary elements on your site (including email opt-in forms) and provide a streamlined look on how it will appear if opened on Google or Facebook.

While both aren’t ranking factors, you want to provide your users the best experience when browsing your site, which both options provide. However, before using either for your site, you can try minimizing the elements on your site so you can increase site speed and performance. Also, it’s possible your site is just as fast using current design and theme. If this is the case, there’s no need for you to use AMP and Instant Articles.

The reason for holding off on either is regarding the latest news that Google AMP cripples the site’s functionality for users despite loading faster. In the same article, Facebook Instant Articles has fallen out of use by publishers.

Conversion rate optimization

Now that your website is ranking for all its keywords, you’d think your job is done. Well, I’m happy to report that it’s far from over. Once you get your site pages on top of search results, it’s time to drive conversions and sales from those pages. Whether you’re selling products or services or just looking to get the email addresses of visitors, you need to find a way to engage with the traffic you’re generating. After all, what’s the point of ranking high on search engines if you’ll just let them slip off your fingers?

To increase your conversion rate, below are tips to help you get started:

End posts with clear calls to action

click through rate ctr

For every post, you need to assign an appropriate CTA.

First, you need to consider the keyword intent of each post. For informational keywords, you may want to link to other sources on your site to expand their knowledge about the topic. For transactional keywords, create a CTA for a purpose of turning visitors into clients or customers.

Once you have figured out the direction of your CTA in relation to your keyword intent, you need to worry about the different parts of your call to action. Below are its basic elements:

  • Headline
  • Description
  • Form
  • Button

Some CTAs can simply be a text and a link if you want to lead readers to another page. If you want visitors to sign up to a form or buy your products, you may need the four elements above.

For the headline and description, you need to appeal to the right emotions of your audience. Some would go for scarcity (if your selling a time-sensitive product or getting them to sign up to your limited-time course offer). Others would use the herd mentality (if you want people to join your membership site). It ultimately depends on your objectives yet again. It helps if you brush up on your SEO copywriting skills in this regard.

When it comes to the form, ask them to fill out their email address only. Asking for just a single information makes it easier for them to commit to your call to action. Getting their name is just as important, but it adds more tasks for people to do. For best results, test different versions of the form and see which one performs better.

The button is arguably the most crucial part of your CTA. Its words and color determine whether people will click on it or not. It’s best to change placeholder texts such as “click here,” “subscribe,” and others into more actionable words like “I want a copy” or “Let me in your course.” Regarding the button color, you can’t go wrong with red as it indicates danger and helps heighten our sense. While red wins according to studies, you can’t rest on that fact unless you run tests on your own.

Optimize CTR on organic search

There’s a chance that your pages are getting CTRs below industry standards according the the AWR Cloud study. It might have to do with your metadata or microdata, whichever is featured more prominently on organic search. Therefore, you need to edit the titles and descriptions of the pages you’re already ranking for to boost their click-through rates.

This post provides actionable tips on how you can improve CTRs of your pages ranking for your keywords using Google Search Console. A takeaway from this post is to revise your “donkey keywords/pages” or those whose CTAs are below average. Editing them using the tips in the post is a low-risk, high-reward proposition. If they work, you can exponentially increase CTR and traffic to your site.

Ask for reviews

For local businesses, it is important that you find ways on how to ask visitors and customers for a star rating that will appear on search results for your branded keyword as social proof. The higher the rating, the higher your conversion rates will be! You can reach out to your group fans and followers with a simple message or create an automated workflow that sends clients/customers a message about rating you.

Content promotions

After optimizing your content, it’s time to market your site to the right channels. SEO is just one of many channels you need to tap into for your audience to find out about your site. As powerful as SEO is as a traffic source, you can’t put all your eggs on a single basket. Considering that Google algorithm frequently changes, you may see erratic changes on your organic traffic and revenue. And as scalable as SEO is, there are just some variables you can control.

Therefore, by tapping into social media, email, and other traffic sources, you can diversify your traffic and not depend on a single sources ever!

After all, unique site visitors is one of the most crucial ranking factors. The more people who visit your site, the higher your site may rank on search engines. By promoting your content on different channels, the traffic adds up until Google can’t help but rank your site even higher! Below are ways you can make that possible for your website:

Share to email list

build an email list

While not strictly a white hat SEO tactic, building an email list allows you to deliver content to people who want to receive them. An email list filters fair-weather visitors from those who want to engage more with your brand. Also, those who join your list are more likely to become a client or customer.

To build an email list, you need to find ways on where and how to feature your opt-in form on your site correctly. One of the best ways to collect the emails of your visitor is through exit intent. The opt-in form pops up from the screen once visitors move the cursor out of the browser window. According to studies, exit intent has proven to increase conversion rate and helps increase your email list faster. However, to make exit intent work, you need to understand the reason visitors are leaving from your site in the first place. From there, you can craft a compelling form that will grab their attention and keep them from leaving your site.

Another effective way to get more subscribers to your email list is to send them content upgrades after they sign up. It gives visitors an incentive to sign up to your form since they will get a bonus on top of what they will receive from you upon signing up.

There are other ways how you can effectively build a list to send your emails to aside from the two above. You will learn the other methods by reading this post.

Once you have a sizable list, you can send them broadcasts every time you publish a post. Write a short description of the post in your email and link back to the post at the end. For best results, play around with the email’s headline by testing different versions using your email tool. Also, it’s best to send text-based emails instead of HTML emails because more people open it and click on its links.

Increase social shares

Sharing your post on social media helps attract more traffic to your site. If you lots of fans and followers on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms, then it only makes sense that you publish your posts there at least once. When reposting the article on social media, change up the text and copy of the message before hitting “Send.” As much as possible, you don’t to send the exact same message from before.  It also lets you play around with different messages that you can use for every update and see which versions perform the best.

Also, you can let readers help you out in sharing your content. By placing social sharing buttons on your site pages, it encourages people to share your post especially if they like it. Use social sharing tools like Sumo or Social Warfare (for WordPress) and place them at optimal places on your site. Both tools allow you to create floating buttons so that the buttons remain in place even if you scroll down the page.

Also, submit your content on sites like QuuuPromote and ViralContentBee to get more people to share your content. Using QuuuPromote allows you to submit your post for review to be shared by its network of social media users looking for content related to their niche. The post is up for 30 days in the network so people can keep sharing them during that period. It’s a paid service ($40/month for one post) but it gets the job done.

ViralContentBee works almost the same as QuuuPromote but is a free service. You need to generate clients by sharing posts of other people on your social media. Once you have enough points, you can create a project by adding your post and assigning credits to it for other users to share. Once you the credits run out, you can add until you’re done promoting it. ViralContentBee offers a paid subscription so you can get monthly credit deposited in your account.

Submit content on bookmarking sites

Submitting your content on sites like Blokube, BlogEngage, AmplifyBlog, and other submission sites mentioned in this post might not generate substantial results. However, they remain viable ways to help push your content out to your audience online.

You sign up to these sites, enter the information of your post with a link on it, choose the appropriate category, and hit “Submit.” Your post will be featured alongside other posts under the same time. Some of these sites offer paid plans to help make your posts more prominent than others. There are better way for you to spend your money on especially if you want to rank your site for organic search. But again, if you’ve exhausted all your options, then paying for this could have tip the scales to your favor.

Use Quora to promote your content

Quora is the best Q&A site online. Each question is organized under different topics. You can follow specific questions so you can receive an email every time somebody answers it. You can also follow the topic to find out the latest questions about it.

If there are questions on Quora where you can link to one of your pages, do it! However, be tasteful when linking to them – it’s more important to give value to users instead of putting focus on the link you’re sharing. Therefore, make sure that your content not only answers the question but also is high-quality and provide additional information about the topic. Learn how you can correctly do this by reading this post.

Brand Magnetism

I saved this section to the end, to reward those who make it this far! Brand magnetism, in my opinion, is probably the strongest ranking factor a site can have. It’s also the one no one really talks about that often either. Google’s job at its core is to provide users with relevant and accurate content correct?

If you agree, then how does one truly trust that information?

The answer is, there are trust factors that Google looks at to establish a site as a true quality source of information. Most would say, that brands are the answer to everything. While we are in a huge shift towards brands just dominating all search results, It’s the underlying factors that are making brands the beasts they are now. That is popularity.

Don’t get me wrong, being a brand can essential mean nothing and doesn’t make you bulletproof. ahemm… Remember BlockBuster? (I tell stories already of how we had to actually go to a place to rent movies!)

What does that mean? Does it mean they have lots of traffic? YES and NO. Traffic, in itself, has proven to be a ranking boost but does not really mean a business, website, or entity is actually popular. It’s good to have the traffic of course. Things like referral traffic, social traffic, direct traffic, offline to online traffic are amazing.

There is something more important and that is…

Are people searching for you specifically and your specific products, content etc?

Take TVG Network for example, below are some of the traffic volumes of just their brand name and popular actions users are looking for.

tvg horse racing site analytics

When I take a client on, the first thing I investigate is the brand query search visibility and gauge their Brand Magnetism and what they do to achieve that, as well how do they stack against the direct competitors.

This is HUGE and vital for competition.

You will not be able to get the search campaign results you want when you are competing against relevant brands with massive search volume. I emphasize relevant because that is important. Meaning, you could, for example, beat a wide spectrum brand ie. Amazon, Quora, Yahoo, Huffington post etc. Those sites have some of the largest brand search volumes out there, but they don’t stand for one thing.

Amazon, you can buy just about anything and they wouldn’t stand up to a very specific site that specializes in one specific type of product. Of course, Amazon destroys most small brands, but if you come in a decent brand search volume and have magnetism you will be able to take outrank them.

This is becoming more and more the case after the updates in August 2018. Even in affiliate marketing type sites, I’m constantly seeing weaker metric sites taking top positions from converting their stance as just as an affiliate site to becoming a brand.

Think about this.

Would you rather be Consumer Reports a huge brand that reviews products vs some weak affiliate site that usually like Bestsomethingreviews.com etc? I’m not hating on the domain name, but just trying to paint a picture for you. The typical affiliate site owner just rewrites the competitors content, slaps it up and throws another affiliate link on it.

How is that good for anything?

Sure, you’ll make some money but nothing like how a true branded affiliate brand would do it. There is no trust, people aren’t looking for that brand and in the end it will not survive, no matter how many links you throw at it or how optimized your content is.

More and more I see typical results like this for keywords.

  • Result 1: 20k brand search
  • Result 2: 15k brand search
  • Result 3: 10k brand search

Ok, don’t yell at me. I know you can go out there and find results that don’t stack perfectly like that, you still need good optimization. It’s about taking the power of a brand and optimizing it for correct performance. When all things are equal they will rank exactly as I posted.

Brand Magnetism Dominates Domain Authority

What does that mean, it’s really the opinion and individual split tests I’ve done that can confirm this type of talk. While Domain authority can mean brand authority in a lot of essences. I’m specifically talking about the number that is assigned by tools such as Moz DA, Ahref DR (domain rating) and others.

Give me a brand with 100k search volume over a site with a DR 70 with little to no brand search any day of the week and I’ll dominate them.

**hint**  it’s better if the brand name contains a related keyword to the industry.

Ok, You understand. How do I get it?

There, unfortunately, is no one size fit all solution to creating a magnetic brand presence. That’s where marketing and unique messages come into play.

What I can tell you from my tests, observations and personal experience is. I’d test these different types of strategies.

Find the main traffic driving sources outside of Google for your niche.

Many review niches perform well on Youtube for example.

Brand A, for example, has 6000 brand searches a month and has over 400 youtube videos (well created).

Brand B has 150 videos and has 1500 Brand search,

Brand C has 10 video’s and has only 250 Brand searches.

That pretty much tells me that youtube has a lot of influence in creating magnetism. Just think of the last time you watched a really good review. Did you watch more from the same person? Did you come back to watch another, did you have a magnetic response to find out more about them? vs that copycat. The boring person, poor editing, no likeability. Get the point?

Instagram is a great equalizer for a lot of brands and is probably the only platform where natural growth hasn’t moved to a pay to play structure yet.

Random example, Take Kaisa Keranen a fitness, bodybuilding female 770K followers on IG and growing at a fast rate.


Find 5 to 10 Instagram accounts of your competitors who are just on Instagram to not dirty your results, then use Ahref’s or Google Keyword Planner to find the search volume associated with their IG growth. You’ll be surprised and probably want to smack yourself in the head for not jumping on that wagon yet.

Here’s an idea that I’ve seen work!MetLife blimpRadio ads work amazingly, Just change your call to action from a Phone number to your Brand name on Google and voila.

Maybe, you want to just stop writing generic content and throw some personality in it or tell a story. Small changes make a difference in your magnetism.

My point of all this is just to make you think and be aware, there are many ways of generating magnetism to your brand.

How are you going to do it?

Post in the comments, some things you’ve noticed generating brand magnetism!

Reviewing the results

The most important aspect of white hat SEO campaigns is the ability to analyze them and come up with actionable items to improve your site’s performance.

Over time, you need to check your Google Analytics and Search Console to comb through the data both have collected so far. As mentioned, you must check your site using the most crucial factors to determine how your site fared during the campaign. Did the site improve its traffic? Is organic search the highest referring traffic source to your site? Are people clicking on your pages ranking on organic search for your target keywords? Are your pages ranking for their respective keywords at all?

Aside from both analytics tools, your SEO tool such as Ahrefs helps you give more insights on how to further take your SEO to the next level. Most SEO tools have a rank tracker feature where it checks the position of your page for its target keyword on Google search. The tools can track your rankings daily, every other three days, or weekly (depending on your subscription plan). If your average keyword ranking dropped, then maybe you did something wrong with your campaign or a major algorithm change took place. If your ranking increased, then you need to keep doing what you’re doing.

ahrefs backlinks

Another important feature that SEO tools can track are your backlinks. You can see new and lost links of your site over time. For the lost links, you can try to acquire them back especially if the site has high authority. For the new links, you can leverage it to build a relationship with the site owner. You can also compare your site’s backlinks side by side with your competitors so you see who gained or lost more high-quality links and spy on other site’s current backlink strategy.

Finally, use the tool to find the keywords your competitors are ranking for now. You can also see keywords they are currently ranking for that your site isn’t. Using this information, you can try and come up with ways to create a better content than their version for that question so you can usurp them from organic keywords.

Wrapping it up

Whew! So it is one of the longer posts I’ve written so far. But I made to not skimp on the quality and information.

White hat SEO is only effective if you can establish the foundations of an online business that’s ready for optimization. Aside from the website, you also need to consider the tools to use, the tracking code to help gather data to analyze your site’s performance and processes that you must do to create useful content that search engines and readers love.

I’m pretty sure I covered as much ground as possible to help you understand what it takes to understand white hat SEO and how to do it for your business the right way.

Thanks for reading this massive white hat SEO post! If you enjoyed it, please share it on social media because your friends and followers might enjoy it as much as you did. For questions about the post, please share them by commenting below and I will get back to you as fast as possible.